We all have aspirations for our children to achieve great things. Now a new elite sixth form in Sheffield is to make those aspirations become reality.
The ‘unapologetically academic’ Mercia Collegiate Sixth Form is to open in September 2023, as the first of its kind in Yorkshire.
The niche institution in Millhouses will welcome 100 students and immerse them in a bespoke teaching environment dedicated to helping students succeed at the best universities in the world.
And it will be open to all talented students across the city and in nearby Derbyshire.
Mercia School headteacher Dean Webster said: “There are bright pupils in every postcode and we want them all to have the chance to study at our new sixth form.
“It is a myth that A Level students only want a good common room and social life at sixth form.
“A lot of students want degrees in dentistry, law or medicine and they need a lot of support to get there – we want to give that support to the people who need it.
“We say that we are unapologetically academic at Mercia. There will be no other sixth form like it.”
Purpose-built Mercia School, part of Mercia Learning Trust, is currently the most oversubscribed school in Sheffield. Demand for sixth form places is expected to be high, so open days will take place this month and next. To get into the sixth form, students will require grade seven GCSEs in the academic subjects they want to study, take a knowledge test and undergo an interview.
In return they will be given exceptional teaching from highly qualified staff, many who went to Oxbridge or other leading universities themselves, and an individual trajectory to success.
They will be prepared for university applications, the reality of rigorous academic study in higher education as well as the culture of university life.
Ruth Hollingsworth, director of the new sixth form, said the aim was to ‘advantage the disadvantaged’ in the name of social mobility.
She added: “We are giving people the private school experience without the private school fees.
“It’s about redefining the sixth form and redefining the meaning of elite. Elite should be about quality, not entitlement.
“The number of Sheffield pupils getting to Oxbridge are really low compared to other cities. We want to change that.
“The kind of students we are looking for are academic, ambitious and aspirational.”
The school’s leadership team has worked closely with the best sixth forms in London on the development of the sixth form since Mercia School opened in 2018. In particular they want to reach out to gifted students in the north of Sheffield and Hope Valley areas. These are both served by bus routes running close to the school and do not have access to an academically focused sixth form.
The team is also considering scholarship opportunities and extra support measures for students who may need it.
The first Open Day took place on Saturday October 15, with the second Open Day on Thursday November 24 from 6-8pm. They will include tours of the school. Students must then apply via merciaschool.com before December 31.